All About Tai
Loves to Run: 5k to Marathon
After Tai's second Saint George Marathon.
How did you start running?
I started running years ago, in a treadmill class, when my second daughter was a year old. After a year, I gave up the treadmill class and started weight training. Then, I started a running plan and felt more in love with running than weight training. While in peak shape, I decided to train for a marathon.
Marathon training took a lot of time management with three kids, work and going through a divorce. It seemed like a bad time in life to pick up a new hobby, but it helped me stay calm and work out energy. There is nothing else like running 16 miles on a trail. I used running as a coping mechanism, it helps me feel rejuvenated and keeps me grounded.
What marathon did you run?
The Saint George Marathon, in 2015 and 2016.
Running Saint George, was always a goal for me. Six years ago, I watched my sister-in-law finish this marathon. She is a mom of five kids, watching her persevere and push herself was very inspirational. Seeing all the people coming across the finish-line in tears or exhausted was inspiring, and made me feel like I should run a marathon too.
I wanted to run Saint George, because it is one of the most challenging and picturesque marathons in the country. The marathon takes place in a canyon and is mountainous up and down.
How did you feel running the Saint George Marathon for the first time?
I was pretty scared, because I had never run that far before.
I went into the race knowing I could finish, but not sure what type of shape I would be in. Three weeks before the marathon my ex-husband moved out of the family home and it was a really difficult time for me. Personally, I had a lot going on and was not very diligent with training towards the end. In the few weeks leading up to the race I actually had a sinus infection that turned into an entire respiratory infection.
My bus ride to the starting line was twenty-six miles through a twisty canyon road. The only way to get back to my car was running there!
I really did not know how long it would take to finish my marathon, I had no time to compare it to and no preconceived notion of a time I had to meet. My goal was to finish and I did!
One of my sisters flew in from New Jersey, my other sister was there with my parents and kids. It was a really big deal for me to have all of their support.
The next morning everything hurt except for my teeth. My dad actually called the pharmacist to have my doctor write a prescription for muscle relaxers. After that, there was an entire phase of thinking I would never do it again.
How was running the Saint George Marathon different the second time?
This year was really different, I hit the wall at mile 23. After analyzing it half to death, I think it is because I was pushing to finish in under 4:30.
There was one hill, which was a mile and a half of climbing up a mountain. The first time around I walked this hill, but this year I ran up it on pace, and my legs were just done. I had to keep going and pushing, looking at the Garmin time.
How did it feel to cross the finish-line?
I finished in 4:29.
Crossing the finish line I felt good, exhausted, empowered and tired.
The last three miles I really pushed myself. Knowing my kids, ex-husband, family and best friend were waiting for me at the finish-line kept my feet moving.
What was your favorite part of the marathon?
The race starts at 7am, but it is still pretty dark. You get up there at 5:30am and it is pitch black. You and 7,500 of your closest friends are gathered around fire pits waiting to start.
Coming down Snow Canyon, it is gorgeous. There are huge red rock mountains and it looks like you are in the middle of a movie. As the sun is rising, you see the sun bouncing off the mountains and everyone running is happy, only seven miles into the race.
What was your first race after running your marathon?
I had a Ragnar a few weeks after the Saint George Marathon. It forced me to get over the hump, get back on the trial and keep miles up. It was good to have another goal and run on a team.
I have run Ragnar's in Vegas twice and Park City. Nothing but fun on a team of twelve, running with no sleeping and living in a van for the better part of three days!
Have you ever been injured?
Earlier this year, I broke my foot.
How did you overcome your foot fracture?
When I was cleared, I started walking a few miles a day with my black-lab Charley. After working my way up to walking 5 miles, I started running at 12 minute-mile pace.
My second daughter Maya wanted me to be her running buddy, in her first ever Girls on the Run 5k last April. My goal was to be strong and healthy enough to run with Maya.
Race day came and there were 35 mile-an-hour winds with pouring rain. The coach told the girls they could choose not to run because of the weather. Half decided not to run. Maya said she was really cold but wanted to do it anyway, which says a lot about her character. We found a tree and umbrellas to stay warm before the start, her teeth were chattering in the cold.
Maya had the biggest smile on her face and we ran our 5k on that cold, wet, windy, freezing day. My amazing little girl! We both finished. This was the first race after breaking my foot and my daughter’s first Girls on the Run 5k! Girls on the Run is such an empowering program.
Do you have a memorable running moment?
On my first double digit run, I thought I could make it on a low carb and low calorie diet. I had a piece of grilled chicken wrapped in lettuce and a protein shake before an 11 mile run.
I started feeling really sick after mile 8. I remember running past a church and stopping with my hands on my knees, praying for the strength to get through this run. I prayed for my entire run, finished my 11 miles, walked into my garage, saw my daughter’s faces and started to cry.
I was broken down with no energy or food, worried about how my body worked. My ex-husband, who is a triathlete, told me to eat bread and carbs. I took his advice and started reincorporating pasta and bread into my diet. It made a huge difference. This experience changed my attitude and unhealthy relationship with food.
I want my girls to have a healthy relationship with food and love their bodies.
Where is your favorite place to run?
The Murdock Canal, 18 miles from start to finish. It is great, there are tons of runners and bikers on this trail. It set up in a canyon. There are water fountains every mile and a half. The perfect place to run long! I have lots of friends to run with on the trail.
What are your favorite foods?
I am a creature of habit before every Saturday morning long run. Friday nights, I make spaghetti carbonara. My friends always come over to my house for the Friday night spaghetti carbonara.
I make spaghetti, have two glasses of red wine go to bed at 10 o'clock. Then, I wake up and have half a blueberry bagel with natural peanut-butter. I do the same thing with a marathon.
After my Saturday long run, I have a cheese burger and fries for lunch. I love sweet potato fries. A gourmet burger is always my go to meal after a long run.
What type of sneakers do you wear?
Saucony Kinvaras are my absolute favorite. I have six pairs right now! They are the perfect shoe for me.
Do you bring anything running?
I run with my wireless headphones, phone and sweatband. I also run with GU and take it every 5-6 miles.
What are your goals?
In the next year, I want to run two marathons. I also want to qualify for the Boston Marathon, before I turn 40. This year, I am getting a running coach to help increase my speed workouts. This is a very big goal!
Do you have a motto?
I love the Biblical quote, Isaiah 40:31: "I shall run and not be weary."
Bringing faith into running is so important. Especially, when you are getting down into a long run the days you just do not have it in you because of tired legs, not enough sleep the night before, or dehydration. You have to call on your higher power to come through it and find something bigger than yourself.
Do you have advice for other runners?
Sometimes you feel like you can go forever and other days feel like it is taking an eternity. Be kind with yourself, be patient with yourself. Start slow and just try and enjoy the process.
Photography, courtesy of Tai Pherribo.
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That Pretty Runner